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Girl Scout cookies are delicious, but are they worth a $740 lawsuit?
Tad Osborn of Fort Collins, Colorado, wrote the Girl Scouts at $42 check for several boxes of cookies last year. It seemed like everything was sweet -- until he received a notice from a debt collection agency telling him that his check had bounced, reports ABC News.
Osborn claims that the Girl Scouts didn't notify him before they sent the problematic check to a debt collection agency. But does that matter?
Colorado's Bad Check Laws
Under Colorado law, if a check bounces, the person who wrote the bad check is still liable to the party he owes money to. So if a bad check is issued, the person to whom money is owed can opt to collect:
Bad check laws in other states have similar provisions. But in Osborn's case, how did his $42 check turn into a $740 ordeal?
The Girl Scouts say Osborn's $42 check was returned to them because his account was closed. Osborn denies this could have happened, and believes there was an issue with the Girl Scouts' bank.
(The Girl Scouts also told The Denver Post that a local troop representative knocked on Osborn's door, but no one answered. It's not clear if the troop made any other attempts to contact Osborn about his bounced check.)
Osborn says he tried to explain the situation to the Girl Scouts when he received the collection agency notice last summer, asking for $82 in restitution for the bounced check, ABC News reports. But with Osborn refusing to pay, that bill has now snowballed as the collection agency has sued him to compel payment. The $739.85 sought by the agency includes $450 in attorney's fees.
To prevent the collection agency from winning a default judgment -- which could potentially happen if Osborn took no action -- Osborn had to pay $100 just to file a response to the lawsuit. A trial over the Girl Scout cookie check issue is now set for May.
Faced with the possibility of having to fork over more than $700 for an order of Girl Scout cookies, Osborn may want to contact an experienced debt collections lawyer for help. A lawyer may also be able to negotiate a settlement for a smaller amount.
Now that he knows how the cookie crumbles when a check (allegedly) goes bad, Osborn is advising other Girl Scout cookie customers to pay only with cash.